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A lifelong dream comes true -- in Finland

By Heikki Nurmi


    -- It's been a lifelong dream of mine to find an old truck, restore it and enjoy a bit of "North American Nostalgia!" I started my search in magazines, newspapers, books and classifieds. Then, I started a search for "classic trucks" on the internet. Wow, endless pages of classic trucks. Hours suddenly turned in days and then months. In my search for the truck, I'm proud to mention that I found The Stovebolt Page! I feel that I can finally relax now! I received a lot of help and made a lot of new friends from all over the world that are willing to share the know-how and expertise that I lack. And with the people at The Stovebolt Page, I have no doubt that one day I can show the photos of a newly restored 1946 1/2-ton Chevrolet done together with the help of my new friends and my 10-year old son (left).

    I happened to find a 1946 1/2-ton Chevrolet in North Carolina. I fell in love with it instantly and gave the folks a telephone call. Were they surprised to know that I was calling from overseas, the country of Finland! We talked with the owners for an hour or more and we made a deal! So, "Bingo" I'm on my way to making my dream come true.

    The truck has been owned by two people and I am now the third. The previous owners have had it for 30 years. All this time, it has been sitting in a garage waiting for its restoration. However, when we turned the engine over, it was as if it had just been out cruising yesterday -- it purrs like a kitten!

    I have plans of restoring the truck -- one piece at a time, as my wallet allows. I hope to make it as original as possible.

 

The '46 sees daylight for the first time after being stored in this garage for over 15 years.

Too bad we don't have a video camera on this ... but we hope you get the point plus some great views of the '46!

 

    So, after a year of planning and calling and faxing and sleepless night working on the net, the "trip home" begins. The '46 was carried from North Carolina to the Port of Charleston in South Carolina.

    From there, she was rolled on board the Ro-Ro vehicle transport "Tagasako" and sailed across the Atlantic to Bremerhaven, Germany. Bremerhaven is situated about 32 nautical miles away from the North Sea. Main port activities are the handling of containers, automobiles, fish, fruits and passengers. The port is divided into the Überseehafen area and the Fischereihafen area. Except for two berths along river Weser (container, passenger and part of the fruit terminal), the port is protected by locks.

 

    Then the truck is loaded on a Superfast 7 (Superfast Ferries -- where I work!) ship called "The Garden" to sail to Hanko, Finland. Miles traveled thus far: thousands! One last move ... she left Hanko, Finland on a car carrier and taken to Northern Sweden, where it is presently being restored.

A little travel information for you!

    Hanko is "the Sunny South" of Finland and a glimpse of the past. The dramatic and exciting history of Hanko is reflected in its maritime past. The cape of Hanko was mentioned as a harbor for the first time in the late 13th century. A narrow strait called Hauensuoli or the "Pike´s Gut," located directly off the coast between two islands, was used as a sheltering harbor from the 15th century onwards. Seafarers carved their names and coats of arms in the rocks of these islands (some 640 carvings have been found and registered).

    There are daily excursions to the "Pike´s Gut," which is one of the most popular sights in Hanko. The Port of Hanko was christened when the railway was built in 1873 and served for a long time as Finland's only winter harbor. The town was founded a year later. With its accessibility by rail, Hanko quickly blossomed as a spa. The elegant timber-framed villas in the Spa Park were built around the Hanko spa around the turn of the 20th century. The villas, designed by well-known architects, represent a decorative wooden architecture. Many of the spa guests stayed in Hanko for the whole summer and were accommodated in these villas. The spa was badly damaged during the

History Sidebar

    The term "Continuation War" refers to the conflict between Finland and the Soviet Union, 1941 - 1944.

Continuation War (See sidebar at left) and was pulled down after that. The Spa Park is one of Hanko's charming attractions, and some of the buildings still serve as guest houses and restaurants.

    At the turn of the 20th century, about 400,000 Finns emigrated, about 250,000 of them passing through Hanko on their way to a new life. They started the journey on the same steamships that transported butter, the major export of those days, to England. The emigrants continued their voyage from England, seeking their fortune in America, Canada and Australia. The town holds many memories of the great emigration, and the cape of Hanko is still being guarded by the "Eye of Hanko," the Russarö lighthouse. These rays of light were often the emigrants´ last farewell from their native country.

Land of the Midnight Sun
Land of the Midnight Sun

    The cape of Hanko has a strategically important location and has been the scene of many battles. In the 17th century, a customs fee was collected at the southernmost tip of the cape and a small fortification had been built. The Swedes began to build bigger fortresses on the cape in the 18th century, and three islands were fortified. In 1910, the area was in Russian possession and the fortification on the cape of Hanko was part of the fortress of Peter the Great. The cape of Hanko was rented to the Soviet Union as a naval base in 1940, following the Winter War. The front line was in Lappohja as the Continuation War began, and bloody battles were waged in the archipelago around the cape of Hanko, too. At the beginning of December 1941, the Russians evacuated Hanko. The citizens returned and started to rebuild the town, which had been badly damaged during the war. Industry, the port, and tourism were used to lay the foundation for what we know as the town of Hanko. A new era began for tourism in Hanko in May 2001, as Superfast Ferries started a new route between Hanko and Rostock, in Germany, with fast passenger and cargo ships. Hanko offers the fastest liner services in Finland to the ports in continental Europe.

The '46 arrives!

 
The truck arrived in Scandinavia on May 12. Heikki is the fellow with the huge smile in the photo on the right!

    The truck is physically with my friend Lars Lundström (with Dave Mann Hotrods) in a small place named "Vuollerim" in Northern Sweden for major work. The '46 is in great hands of a skillful crafter. The minor work is being done "at home." ... by me!

 

And now some history of the truck:

    The first owner was a plumber who lived in Blue Ridge County, Georgia. The truck had never been out of the county and after the plumber died in 1976, his widow sold the truck to some folks in Florida. They drove it from GA to to Miami, Florida (about 700 miles) where they kept it in a garage until 1978. They had every intention of restoring it at that time but lack of money and time prevented it.

    In 1978 the owners hauled the truck on a flatbed to a farm in Cassia, Florida (about 300 miles). Again, it sat there in a garage for 12 years! It was only driven on weekends. The truck was moved again (marriage) to a garage in Tampa, Florida where it was painted. However, due to the lack of free time this ol' truck sat in the darkness of a garage from about 1987 until 1997.

    In 1997 the owners moved to North Carolina and low and behold, this ol' truck was parked once again.

    Over the period of 30 years numerous folks wanted to purchase the truck. This Chevrolet has been through two divorces and three marriages! Now that has to be a tough OLD Chevrolet! Sure do hope it will be as faithful to us!

    I was told also that these folks would buy it back if we ever decided to sell! Not yet anyway. Maybe my son will inherit it one day. We laugh about the saying that they have on the Stovebolt Page -- that "it ran when we parked it!" Our truck has a history of "parking and traveling"! Hopefully, its "parking" life will be over in the days to come.

    It was placed in the Internet classifieds ... where it was discovered by a couple in Finland with a bad case of Stovebolt Fever -- A Fever that has no cure!!!! (Editor's Note -- Ain't that the truth!)

    I guess when a person wants something and has a dream to fulfill, it can come true and the distance is not an obstacle. Persistence and the will to work for something will make our dreams come true no matter where will live. It pertains to anything else in life. I have found this out myself. I'm proud to have and own a piece of American History and being able to save this '46 Chevrolet truck from further destruction and possibly the scrap yards!

 

The restoration work begins:

    All I can say is that The Stovebolt Pages have become a part of my life as are the folks that meet there as well. It's nice to have friends there. You folks in the States and Canada are very lucky to have these pieces of history and parts available in your back yard, so to speak!

    I got my questions on dimensions and weight answered all the way from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. And another 'Bolter gave me some advice on a special booklet from GM-Canada. The Booklet has everything from A - Z concerning the 1946 trucks. Useful info for anyone.

    My thanks goes out to Mr. George Mills for sending it to me, and to the many others that gave me the info at the Forum. The 'Bolters have answered my questions and then some.

 

 

    Hopefully it will be done by June in order for us to have it safety inspected and then drive to Finland and down to Helsinki, which is very much South. That will be approximately 16 hours (at normal speed) but with this old timer, maybe longer. But well worth the time. This will be very special if we make it by mid summer when the sun never sets.

    Just think of all the traveling that ol' 46 has behind it, considering its age! Almost two years in the waiting to have it in my possession. Patience needed ?? Ohh Yees! It has been all heart, mind, soul and wallet book in the works.

 

 

  This is a close-up of the fenders. Pretty pitted.

  However ... I found newer fenders in Kentucky!

  All four from the same individual!

  What Luck !

 

 

    The seat shown here is almost done. The material I used is named "Alcantara" and is used in sofas and chairs here in Europe. Its very strong and durable and easy to clean. It looks and feels like "Suede Leather." The cost is about 50 USD per meter. The color is a burgundy red with a bluish gray, however the lighting made it look much brighter.

 

 

 

Work on the doors ... much work on the doors!

Some rust or perhaps mice damage.

Anyway -- more work!

The floorboard looks pretty good -- interesting footprint, eh?

 

    Classic Finn's first contact with us was in January 2003. He was looking for the weight, length and width of a 1946 Chevy 1/2-ton in order to get an idea of what to expect for shipping. He had "searched the web endlessly for specs and of course ending up with nothing. The shipping company is asking this in order to give me a correct price quotation." Classic Finn had some story going there ... plus a billion pictures to go with it! Hence, the story above unfolded and a friendship began ... and continues!

    If you'd like to know more ... please feel free to contact Heikki / Classic Finn. He's got some good ol' Stovebolt blood and hospitality running in them veins!



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